Pre-registration midwifery education: Do learning styles limit or liberate students?
In 1995, all pre-registration health education moved into higher education, signalling a shift from the apprenticeship model to an academic one. Since 2008, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has required all pre-registration midwifery programmes to be offered at degree level only, with a required practice-to-theory ratio of no less than 50% practice and no less than 40% theory. Individual education institutions vary in how these requirements are met in terms of learning and teaching strategies. This article explores literature in relation to the ‘learning styles’ pedagogical approach, which advocates that all students have a particular preferred learning style and will learn best if they are allowed to learn in their preferred style. The key question is: What are the most appropriate learning and teaching strategies to support student midwives to develop the skill set required to meet the demands of contemporary practice?
Pre-registration midwifery education not only prepares students to be competent and confident on registration, it is also the start of their journey as lifelong learners in order to ensure their practice remains contemporary and evidence-based. In a potentially stressful, complex and dynamic clinical environment, midwives must demonstrate resilience and emotional intelligence to consistently provide women and their families with high-quality care (Power, 2016). Sophisticated interpersonal skills, competent and confident clinical practice and high-order critical decision-making skills are fundamental to safe practice, which is why it is important that pre-registration midwifery education employs a range of learning and teaching approaches to support student midwives to develop the skill set to meet the demands of contemporary practice.
In 1995, all pre-registration health education moved into higher education, signalling a geographical as well as pedagogical shift from the apprenticeship model to an academic one. Since 2008 the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has required all pre-registration midwifery programmes to be offered at degree level only, with a required practice-to-theory ratio of no less than 50% practice and no less than 40% theory. While indicative content of all curricula is determined by EU requirements (European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, 2005) and NMC (2009) standards, individual approved education institutions (AEIs) vary in how these professional and legal requirements are met in terms of the learning and teaching strategies adopted. As long as student midwives are competent in the four domains—effective midwifery practice; professional and ethical practice; developing the individual midwife and others; and achieving quality care through evaluation and research—individual AEIs have the autonomy to decide how to best support their students to meet the requirements to be admitted to the register.
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